The top 6 salt myths – busted!

When it comes to nutrition, there are so many myths and misconceptions about what is ‘healthy’ – and salt is no exception.  With so much noise from so many different ‘experts’ we thought it was time to debunk the top 6 most common myths about salt.

MYTH: I don’t add salt to my food, so my salt intake isn’t a problem

FACT: 75% of the salt consumed actually comes from everyday processed and packaged foods. These foods don’t always taste salty, so it can be hard to tell how much salt you are having. Some surprisingly salty everyday foods include cooking sauces, ready made meals, processed meats (ham, sausages etc.) dips and crackers and dressings and condiment. Even sweet foods like muffins and cakes can be full of salt!

MYTH: I need to eat more salt after exercise to prevent cramps and dehydration

FACT: You only lose a small amount of salt in sweat, so it’s unlikely you need more after exercise. Unless you are exercising for more than an hour in extreme heat, eating your usual snack and drinking water is a perfectly acceptable way to rehydrate your body. No need for sports drinks or shaking extra salt into your meals.

MYTH:  I only have gourmet salts like Himalayan pink salt, and they are healthy.

FACT: all different types of salt – whether it’s pink, black or white, and whether it’s flakes or rocks – contain sodium and chloride. It is the sodium part of salt that is damaging to health. So too much of any type of salt means too much sodium, and this can lead to high blood pressure.  While some gourmet salts do contain trace minerals that regular table salt doesn’t, it is only in tiny amounts. It’s a much better idea to get your intake of these trace minerals from fresh healthy produce like fruit and vegetables.

MYTH: Salt needs to be added to processed food to preserve it

FACT: Our research shows huge discrepancies in salt levels within similar product categories. In fact, some tomato-based pasta sauces are 90x saltier than others! This goes to show that manufacturers CAN reduce the amount of salt in their products without affecting safety or taste. Most foods are now stored in fridges, so the need for salt as a preservative has reduced.

MYTH: Food has no flavour without salt

FACT: Your tastebuds may be used to the taste of salt, but it actually only takes a few weeks for them to adapt. Once you start reducing your salt, you will start to become more sensitive to the taste – things might even start to taste too salty! There are also so many delicious alternatives to flavour your food. Try different combinations of herbs and spices to give your food unique flavours.

MYTH: Salt is natural and if I reduce it I won’t be getting enough

FACT: Your body only needs about 1-2g of salt to function properly – most Australians are having up to 8 times this amount! So while some salt is necessary, this amount can easily be obtained from naturally occurring salt in fresh foods.